Daily Current Affairs -02-03-2021

The National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) is all set to launch its ‘AI Game Changers’ program in India.

About the programme

The programme will be launched to promote the artificial intelligence (AI)-led innovation across the country. The programme is being run in collaboration with the innovation partner for the programme, Microsoft. It was launched under the “AI for India” Mission. It seeks to recognize the impactful and scalable AI-based innovation in India. The Nasscom and Microsoft will work in collaboration to develop and promote the AI Gamechangers program. It was built with the shared commitment of adopting the Artificial Intelligence across all the key sectors.

Purpose of the program

The AI led program will help in recognizing the innovators for their successful AI implementation at the Xperience AI Summit of NASSCOM. It is one among the largest AI summits in India. The summit will serve as a platform for the start-ups, academia, governments, enterprises and NGOs to showcase their AI based products & solutions. It also provides reach & impetus to drive AI innovation in India. The program was launched with the aim of spotlighting several leading AI-based innovations and recognizing their efforts. It also seeks to motivate the ecosystem to leverage the opportunity in order to help India in becoming a global powerhouse in AI-led innovation.

National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM)

It is a non-governmental trade association and advocacy group in India. It mainly focuses the Information Technology (IT) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry. The group was established in the year 1988. It has initiated a ‘10,000 Startups’ programme in 2013 with the objective of supporting and impacting 10,000 startups by 2023.

The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh has introduced the “Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021” in the assembly. This bill has replaced the ordinance that the government had brought to check the religious conversions through any fraudulent means.

Highlights

The new bill has replaced the ordinance which the government cleared in December 2020 and promulgated in January 2021. The bill comprises of the provisions of 10 years imprisonment for some cases and fine for violators. The bill was presented by the Home Minister, Narottam Mishra. Now this bill will be put up for consideration. Members can suggest amendments to the bill. The bill was passed in the assembly on the line of law passed by Uttar Pradesh which have similar provisions.

Background

The Governor of the Madhya Pradesh, Anandiben Patel, given her assent to the “Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance, 2020” on January 9, 2021. This ordinance comprised of the provision of penalising the religious conversions through fraudulent means and the marriage.  Till date, 23 cases were registered under this ordinance.

What does SC say on Marriage and Conversion?

The supreme court of India have pronounced in several judgements that state and courts have no jurisdiction on the absolute right of adult to choose their life partner. The count has also confirmed in the cases like Lily Thomas and Sarla Mudgal that religious conversions which is carried without a bona fide belief and to derive some legal benefit is not logical.

The first day of March, 2021 marked the beginning of Women’s History Month. This year the month is more significant because all the centennial celebrations that mark the women’s suffrage were curtailed or cancelled in the year 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the month is being observed under the theme: “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced”.

Women’s History Month

It is an annual declared month which is celebrated to highlight the contributions of women in the events of history and the contemporary society. The month is celebrated in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia in the month of March which also corresponds with International Women’s Day which is observed on March 8.

Background

The countries started commemorating the week in the year 1978. The commemoration first started in Sonoma County, California. Then, it was championed by Gerda Lerner.

Why this month is significant in 2021?

The year 2020 was marked by the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Amid the pandemic, the women faced the challenges of Inequalities ranging from the pay disparity to the domestic threat. The statistics show that, women make only 77 cents for every dollar a man earn. The statistics also shows that, one in every three women will be vulnerable to the gender violence in her lifetime. Thus, this month is being observed to fight, protect and support women. The month will also be “celebrating women”.

International Women’s Day

This day is observed on March 8 all across the world. The day is a focal point of the movement for women’s rights. The proposal to mark a special women day was put by German delegates after the Socialist Party of America celebrated Women’s Day in New York City on in 1909. The women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917. To mark this, March 8 became a national holiday there. Later, in 1977, the United Nations started celebrating this day.

Pakistan has signed a ten-years agreement with Qatar over the liquefied natural gas (LNG). The new agreement was signed at a significantly lower rate than the other deals that both the countries had signed.

Significance of the agreement

The new agreement between Pakistan and Qatar will help in saving $300 million annually or nearly $3 billion in the next 10 years for Pakistan.

Highlights

This agreement was signed at around 31 percent lower rate when compared to the previous PML-N agreement of 2015. The agreement has been signed for 10 years which is the lowest publicly disclosed contract on the liquified natural gas in the world. As per the new contract, Pakistan will pay around $316 million less than the prior agreement. It will amount to saving of around $3 billion in LNG import. This agreement was signed after a year-long negotiation between both the countries.

About the agreement

The long-term contract was signed at the rate of 10.2 percent of Brent. With this agreement, Pakistan will import 200 million cubic feet (mmcfd) of LNG in a day. Earlier, Pakistan used to import 500 mmcfd of LNG in 2015 at the rate of 13.37 percent of Brent. Under this deal, Pakistan will get 3 million tonnes of LNG from the Qatar Petroleum per year starting from January 2022. It will start with receiving two ships per month. In the next three years, this will be increased to four ships. This agreement also provides for the provision of price negotiation option. Under the agreement, the price negotiation can be done after four years rather than 10 years.

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)

It is natural gas which mainly composed of the methane (CH4) along with the mixture of ethane (C2H6). This natural gas is cooled down to convert it into the liquid form to safely store and transport it.

The Parliament of India have merged two of the TV channels namely, Lok Sabha TV and Rajya Sabha TV into an integrated channel “Sansad TV”.

Highlights

This new platform will continue to live telecast the house proceedings, pack news and the current affairs programme in Hindi as well as in English languages. The Rajya Sabha TV establishment is run from the rented public property near the Talkatora stadium. Now this establishment will be merged with the infrastructure of Lok Sabha TV in order to create a new entity. The former textiles secretary, Ravi Kapoor, has been appointed as the CEO of the Sansad Tv on a contract basis for a period of one year.

Background

The proposal for the merger of two entities was put forward in 2019 by an expert committee headed by Prasar Bharati CEO Surya Prakash.

Aim of the Merger

The two entities have been merged into an integrated channel with the aim of cutting the costs, to streamline the management of the channel and to organise the content in order to make it more attractive for the viewers and advertisers. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha TV were profit-making entities. Both the channels bagged the advertisements primarily from the public sector giants and the central ministries.

About Sansad Tv

The Sansad TV will comprise of two platforms or channels and it will ensure smooth telecast of the live proceedings of both the Houses of Parliament. During the recess in Parliament, the channel will be given the two options viz., to run the current affairs channels in English & Hindi or to shut down one channel & run programmes on other. The new channel will have its office in a small bungalow at Mahadev Road.

Significance of the merger

The merger of the entities will be a major cost-saving exercise. With the merger, the Rajya Sabha Tv will shell out ₹10-12 crore on rent for its office and studio in the Talkatora Road.

The National Science Day was celebrated at the Vigyan Bhawan on February 28, 2021. The programme celebrated under the focal theme- women in science.

About National Science Day

The national science day is celebrated on February 28 every year. The day is celebrated to mark the discovery of the ‘Raman Effect’.  The national science day was designated by Government of India in the year 1986.   Sir C.V. Raman had announced the discovery of the ‘Raman Effect’ on this day. He also received the Nobel Prize for this discovery in the year 1930. The celebration of the day is coordinated by the nodal agency National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC) under the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

Who received the awards?

The President of India conferred several awards for the science communication and popularization and to the women scientists on this occasion. Some of the awards include:

  1. National Science and Technology and Communication Awards
  2. SERB Women Excellence Awards
  3. Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research (AWSAR) awards and
  4. National Award for Young Woman Showing Excellence Through Application of Technology for Societal Benefits.

About Raman Effect

Raman effect is inelastic scattering of the photons by matter where there is an exchange of energy and change in the direction of light. This effect comprises the vibrational energy which is gained by the molecule when the incident photons from visible laser are shifted to the lower energy. This effect takes place when light enters in the molecule and interacts with the electron density of chemical bond. This causes the electromagnetic field in molecule which in turn leads to vibrational and deformation of the frequency shift.

The Third Jan Aushadhi Diwas celebrations started on March 1, 2021. This is a one-week-long celebrations and the celebrations would conclude on March 7, 2021.

Highlights

To mark the celebrations, the Jan Aushadhi Kendras conducted the Health Check-up Camps. The health check-up activities include Sugar level check-up, blood Pressure check-up, free doctor consultation and free medicine distribution.  The camps informed the educated the general public who visited there regarding the price, benefits and quality of the medicines which are sold at the Jan Aushadhi Kendras.

Pradhan Mantri Bharatiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP)

The PMBJP campaign was launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals, in order to provide the quality medicines at the affordable prices. Under this scheme special kendras named as “Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana Kendra” have been set up in order to provide generic drugs at lesser prices but equivalent in quality and efficacy of branded drugs.  These generic drugs are procured by Bureau of Pharma Public Sector Undertakings of India (BPPI) which has been established under the Department of Pharmaceuticals by the support of all CPSUs. The BPPI also helps in marketing the generic drugs through these Jan Aushadhi Kendra.

Background

This scheme was launched by the UPA government in 2008. In the year 2015, the scheme was rechristened by Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi. This campaign was started by the sale of generic medicines through “Jan Aushadhi Medical Store” across the country. The ‘Jan Aushadhi Scheme’ was renamed as the ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Yojana’ (PMJAY) in September 2015. This was further renamed as “Pradhan Mantri Bharatiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana” in November 2016.

The Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare and Science & Technology, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, inaugurated the second edition of Global-Bio India-2021 on March 1, 2021. This is a three-day event which will be organised from March 1 to March 3, 2021 under the Theme– ‘Transforming Lives’ along with the tagline ‘Biosciences to Bio-economy’.

Highlights

This is a virtual event which is being organised on a digital platform by the Department of Biotechnology under the ministry of Science & Technology. The public sector undertaking, Invest India, Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council in association with the industry association confederation of Indian industry are also contributing in the event. The event has representatives from 50 plus countries with Switzerland as the key partner Karnataka as the state partner.

About the event

The Global-Bio India event will mark the participation of more than 5000 delegates, 1000 start-ups and 200 exhibitors. It will also be participated by the academia, researchers, entrepreneurs, start-ups, policy leaders, investors, enablers, regulators, medium & large-scale industry and other organizations to facilitate acceleration of innovation ecosystem in India. It will be organising 24 knowledge sessions so as to emphasize role of multiple allied sectors for the growth of Biotechnology in India.

Aim of the event

The Global-Bio India event is being organised with the aim of providing India the recognition of an emerging Innovation Hub and the bio-manufacturing hub globally. It will facilitate Biotech innovation ecosystem, Make in India and India’s investments for the Atma Nirbhar Bharat initiative and global networking & collaborations.

Significance of the biotechnology sector

The Biotechnology sector has become a significant part of the Indian economy. The Indian government is also playing a major role in building the bio-economy worth USD 150 billion by 2025. This sector is considered as a major driver for India to achieve the target of USD 5 trillion targets.

LinkedIn Opportunity Index 2021 was recently published. The report focuses on the manner women perceive their opportunities. It also focuses on how gender gap is slowing down the career progress for working women in India in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic.

Key Highlights

What hinders the career development?

In India, lack of required professional skills and lack of guidance through networks & connections are the barriers that hinders the career development for working women. Because of these barriers, the women are of the view that organisations should step up in order to provide maternity policies and other flexibility & developmental programmes. The women are also appreciating the telecommuting and work-from-home.

On March 1, 2020 India announced that it will deliver a consignment of 1,000 metric tonnes of rice and 100,000 tablets of Hydroxychloroquine as a humanitarian assistance to the drought-hit Madagascar in line with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of SAGAR.

Highlights

The humanitarian assistance will be delivered by the Indian Naval Ship Jalashwa. This ship will be sent on March 3, 2021 containing food and medical assistance. It will reach the Port of Ehoala, Madagascar in between March 21 and March 24. This consignment is being sent to the Madagascar after the government of Madagascar appealed for the international solidarity and assistance to tackle the humanitarian crisis in South of Madagascar. INS Jalashwa will also carry an Indian Naval training team which will be deployed in Madagascar for the purpose of capacity building and training of Malagasy Special Forces for two weeks.

Humanitarian Crisis in Madagascar

The southern part of Madagascar is undergoing the challenge of drought for the three consecutive years. The drought has damaged the harvests and has hampered access to food for the people amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Hunger has increased in the southern Madagascar because of drought. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), the “famine-like conditions” in southern Madagascar have increased the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance by two folds, to more than 1.3 million.

India-Madagascar Relation

India has always come forward to provide humanitarian assistance tot e Madagascar. India had sent a consignment of 1,000 metric tonnes of rice in September 2018 which was delivered through the Indian Naval vessel to Madagascar. Further, Indian Navy was the first who respond when Cyclone Diane had made its fall in Madagascar. The army’s carried its assistance programme under the “Operation Vanilla” by INS Airavat in January 2020. Later, INS Shardul reached to the port of Antisiranana and delivered 600 tonnes of rice as HADR assistance to Madagascar to tackle the heavy floods in the Northern Madagascar in March 2020.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Boeing Co have announced on March 2, 2021 that they completed the first flight test on a pilotless fighter-like jet which was designed to operate in concurrence the with crewed aircraft.

Highlights

“Loyal Wingman” is the first military aircraft that has been designed and manufactured in more than 50 years in Australia. This first military aircraft make its flight under the supervision of Boeing test pilot who was monitoring it from the ground control station located in South Australia. In the development of the product, the Australian government invested A$40 million. The aircraft has also attracted interest from United States and United Kingdom.

Loyal Wingman Aircraft

It is 38 feet long aircraft. The aircraft has a range of 2,000 nautical mile or 3,704 km range. The nose of the aircraft can be removed to fit various payloads and weapons. It can also act like a shield to protect several expensive manned fighter jets. This project is a pathfinder to integrate the autonomous systems and artificial intelligence in order to create smart human-machine teams. The first Loyal Wingman is being used as the foundation for Airpower Teaming System of Boeing. It is a service which is being developed for several global defence customers.

About the test flight

The Loyal Wingman took off using its own power, during the test flight, before it flew to a predetermined route at different speeds and altitudes. The aircraft was tested at different speeds and altitudes in order to verify the functionality of the aircraft and to demonstrate performance of its design.

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)

The RAAF was established in March 1921. It is the aerial warfare branch of Australian Defence Force (ADF). This branch of ADF operates several fixed wing aircraft of ADF. It also provides support to the spectrum of operations including air superiority, intelligence, surveillance, precision strikes, reconnaissance, space surveillance, air mobility and humanitarian support.

The digital mapping and location-based deep-tech product and platform company, MapmyIndia has launched the targeted maps and nearby search features for its mobile application as well as its official website. This feature will help the Indians to find coronavirus vaccination centres across India.

Highlights

Government of India has also integrated these features into cowin.gov.in which is the official covid-19 vaccination registration portal. This feature would help in guiding the people and connect them to the nearest vaccination centres.

Role of MapmyIndia during COVID-19 Pandemic

Ever since the covid-19 pandemic made its fall in India, MapmyIndia has been geospatially mapping all the corona related places, treatment, testing, isolation centres and all the containment zones in real-time. It has also put all the vaccination centres across India on MapmyIndia maps in order to make critical vaccination effort seamless.

About MapmyIndia

It is an Indian technology company which builds the digital map data, location-based SaaS, telematics services and GIS AI services. This company was established in the year 1992 by Rakesh and Rashmi Verma. It is headquartered at New Delhi. The company is also having regional offices in Mumbai and Bengaluru while its international office is located at the San Francisco Bay Area. The company recently won the “Atmanirbhar App Challenge” for its consumer app called “Move”.

Background

Rakesh and Rashmi Verma had also launched a start-up called C E Info Systems New Delhi in 1992. They later started working on developing a web mapping technology and provide products & services which are needed to enhance the marketing and logistics efficiency.

Projects by MapmyIndia

MapmyIndia took up its first ever project in1993 to develop good quality maps comprising of detailed topography in order to support the marketing and logistics operations of Coca-Cola and Cellular One. In the year 2004, it launched its “Digital Mapping Portal” that provides free, customized and location-based services. Thus, this portal helps in last mile deliveries of the product and services. It also launched a GPS Navigation service called Road Pilot in the year 2010 which comprises the preloaded map for Indian Cities. It has also creating maps of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. It also launched a Covid-19 dashboard in the year 2020 that maps the real time containment zones, Covid testing and treatment centers across the country.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has recently released its Initial Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Synthesis Report.

Highlights

While commenting on the report; the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, stated that the year 2021 is a “make or break” year so as to confront the global climate emergency. The Secretary-General further stated that in order to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius, the global emission should be cut by 45% of the 2010 level by 2030.

Initial Nationally Determined Contributions Synthesis Report

This report was released by the UNFCC. This report measures the progress of national climate action plans in the backdrop of upcoming 26th session of Conference of its Parties (COP26) in November 2021 in Glasgow. This report has also urged the other countries to initiate more ambitious plans in order to reach the Paris Agreement goals.  This report covered the submissions from countries up to December 31, 2020. As per the submission, 75 countries which are Parties to the Framework Convention communicated a new or updated NDC which represents 30 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

It is an international environmental treaty involved in addressing the climate change. This framework has been negotiated and signed by 154 states. It was signed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) or the Earth Summit which was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. It has its Secretariat in Bonn. The framework came into force on March 21, 1994.[1] The first implementation of measures under the UNFCCC was the Kyoto Protocol (signed in 1997). UNFCCC has 197 signatory parties as of 2020.  Conference of the Parties (COP) is the supreme decision-making body of UNFCCC.